NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Cong. Edgar Chatto has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to hold another Passport on Wheels service by June.
Chatto spoke with DFA Asec. Senen Mangalile, in charge for consular affairs, on Tuesday as the present allocation of 2,000 slots from the Provincial Government this March and another m 1,500 slots for Tagbilaran City in April are not enough.
The demand for more slots prompted Chatto to move towards another Passport on Wheels activity.
Chatto had previously requested for Passport on Wheels services, supporting the request of the Provincial Government at the early onset of the pandemic but was told mobile servicing can be facilitated when restrictions are eased.
This time, he requested increased slots for both scheduled mobile service activities but due to limited manpower and equipment capacity, the DFA would rather provide for another batch in June.
In February 2021, Chatto filed House Bill 8767 to establish a permanent DFA office in Bohol.
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs approved the House Resolution for the Bohol satellite office.
At the height of the pandemic in July of last year when DFA established Temporary Offsite Passport Services across the country, Chatto requested the same for Bohol.
This was followed through with a proposal for the free use of space at Alturas Mall which Chatto endorsed to the DFA in November.
In discussions with Asec. Mangalile, he told Chatto this was plausible with the appropriate logistical support.
With the latest development which is the approval of the House Resolution, however, DFA can move to secure the needed budget for the full DFA office in the province, Mangalile said.
Chatto’s push to establish the satellite office dates back to when he was governor.
He had cited that the province is home to more than 50,000 overseas Filipino workers and is a prime tourist destination.
This, he said, merits DFA presence in Bohol to perform not only passport-related transactions but regular consular functions.
At present, Boholanos in need of these services have to travel to nearby Negros Occidental, Cebu, Manila and other provinces which consumes time, effort, and resources.
Just recently, Chatto’s push for the creation of a provincial office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was approved at the Senate, with Senator Joel Villanueva sponsoring the measure.
Last year, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) satellite office was established in the province and began holding professional examinations such as the licensure exams for teachers and criminologists.